My friend, Ruth Brown, created this lovely video of my solo exhibition “Focus on Still Life” which is currently hanging at the Watchung Arts Center in Watchung, New Jersey. This exhibition will be hanging until January 30th. If you haven’t had a chance to see it or you are not able to get to Watchung, check out the video. Thank you for sending me this Ruth.
I began photographing still life as a way to learn about light and how the camera captures it. Little did I realize that it would become an obsession. I have always loved the Dutch Master still life paintings. The light they painted was so ethereal and magical. Their paintings drew me in, made me stop and explore the image represented there. And, their paintings always had meanings, hidden to us in todays world since we no longer see objects as representations of messages. In their time each flower meant something different. A bouquet of flowers spoke volumes. Today, we prize these paintings for their beauty. I try to capture the same sense of light and drama as these painters did but I do so not with a canvas and brush but with my camera, props and digital filters and textures.
So, for those of you out there in the world who may be interested, this blog will take you along on my journey of exploring and photographing still life images. I will bring you along on my quest to discover unusual props, backgrounds, table tops, textures and whatever else I use to bring my images to life.
Along the way I will also introduce you to different artists that I discover as I find my way through this journey. I will share some links, books and other photographers work (with their permission of course).
I am excited about this journey and curious to see who will travel with me on this road.
For my first posting, I would like to introduce you to a seventeenth century painter, Adriaene Coorte. Little is known about his life. In fact the first exhibition of his works was not held until 1958. The following excerpt from The Still Lifes of Adriaen Coorte by Quentin Buvelot describe eloquently what I have clumsily tried to explain above: “His most characteristic works show us a stone table with one or more kinds of vegetables or fruit…..The motifs, which are rendered in meticulous detail, are always set against a dark background. A hard, bright and wonderfully elaborated illumination spreads an unrealistic, almost magical sheen over his carefully structured still lifes…..”
The image above is his Still Life with Asparagus and Spray of Red Currants. The image below is my photographic interpretation. My image is lit simply with natural side light and a reflector. I have also applied a painting filter from one of the Topaz Plug Ins, Simplify, and reduced the opacity to about 20%, it takes the photographic sharpness down ever so slightly. I have printed this image on canvas and have been asked many times if it was a painting. Since red currants were not available to me I clipped some branches and berries from a bush in my garden. Not having a stone table at hand, I used an old oak table. It is simply my interpretation of his painting…..
This third image below is one of my own compositions, using some asparagus and vegetables at hand. By working from the inspiration piece of Adriaene Coorte, I ended up with two very different images and I guess that is what inspiration is all about, first we copy, then we create. The third image is on the same table, using the same light but I added a different background and my own composition. And, just in case you were wondering, the background is actually a digital texture (I am afraid I don’t remember from where, I have purchased and downloaded so many), that I printed on watercolor paper and taped to the wall behind my composition. Going forward I will certainly include links and information about the textures and filters I use.
Until next time…….look for the still moments in your life.